Paul Gauguin

Paul Gauguin, Paul Eugene Henry Gauguin was born in Paris on June 7, 1848 in the family of journalist Clovis Gauguin, a convinced radical. After the defeat of the June uprising, the family of Gauguin for security reasons was forced to move to relatives in Peru, where Clovis intended to publish his own magazine. But on the way to South America, the journalist died of a heart attack, leaving his wife with two young children. We must pay tribute to the spiritual stamina of the artist’s mother, who alone, without complaint, raised children.

Paul Gauguin

Paints of Martinique “Tropical vegetation” 1887 Edinburgh National Gallery of Scotland This view of the Bay of Saint Pierre

A vivid example of courage in Paul’s family environment was his grandmother Flora Tristan, one of the first socialist and feminist in the country, who published in 1838 an autobiographical book, “The Wanderings of the Pariah”. From it Paul Gauguin inherited not only the external resemblance, but also her character, her temperament, indifference to public opinion and love of travel.
Shyness and isolation make it difficult for Gauguin to communicate with friends, exacerbating a sense of loneliness and exacerbating his sensitivity. At the examinations at the nautical college Paul failed and was enlisted as a sailor on the merchant ship “Lusitano”, sent to Rio de Janeiro. During the voyage, which in general proved to be quite successful, Paul Gauguin received news of the death of his mother, to which he was always very attached. In 1890, he made with a daguerreotype her portrait, as full of tenderness as a memory: a woman with aristocratic and at the same time slightly childish features. At the end of the Franco-Prussian war, during which Gauguin served as a sailor of the third class on the corvette “Jerome-Napoleon”, he happened to be in Saint-Cloud, at his mother’s house. The house was completely destroyed by Prussian bombs.

Paul Gauguin

Scenes from the life of Brittany “The Breton Cowgirl” 1886 Newcastle Art Gallery

Sister Polya, Marcelina-Marie, was in the care of Gustave Arosa, whom her mother entrusted her children before her death. In one of the letters to their mutual friend, Mrs. Hegard, Gauguin says that he asked the young Mette for his hand and believes that the choice is very good.
Tanned olive skin, dark hair, slightly falling on the shoulders, a blue sweater, like those of Breton fishermen, and broken in the ear takes delight in the young artists. His paintings, they considered innovative and exceptionally bold. Two of them – Emil Bernard and Charles Laval – were friends. (Gauguin has a portrait of Laval looking at the lorgnettes spread out on the table fruit). Artists argued a lot about the use of color and worshiped Degas and Pissarro. Of realistic works, only two relate to that period: the melancholic content of the “Breton Barnyard” and the painting “Bathing at the mill in the Bois d’Amour”, made in warm colors.
 Gauguin, constantly looking for a chance to expand his circle of friends in the artistic environment with the aim of selling his works, appreciated Theo’s attention to him. Moreover, intolerance and the difficult nature of Gauguin contributed only to an increase in the number of enemies. He finally quarreled with Sera, accusing him of a purely scientific approach to painting, ruined his relationship with his old friend and teacher Pissarro, as he was carried away by pointillism, and preferred now the company Degas, who often met with Van Gogh at the cafe “New Athens”.
In the spring of 1887, Gauguin, dissatisfied with the results obtained, the “ugly” situation in Paris and his own way of life, leaves with Laval to Martinique to find there new artistic impressions and incentives capable of pouring a fresh stream into his art.

Paul Gauguin

Portrait of the family “Schuffenecker’s family” 1889-Paris Musee d’Orsay

At first, Gauguin had to work as a digger for the construction of the Panama Canal. But, as soon as they saved Laval and collected a small sum, they immediately went to St. Martin to Martinique. The lush nature, mild climate, the appearance of the natives excite the imagination of the artist, and he writes to his wife that he hopes to see her here with the children one day. Most of all it admires the local population. Dark-skinned natives, wrapped in colorful rags, moved smoothly and carelessly. Gauguin thought that here was the “paradise of Creole gods”, as he wrote to Schuffenecker. He is convinced that landscapes, bright colors, the light of the tropical sky, the vibration of the air, colorful Indian figures will cause great interest in Paris. Nevertheless, the artist’s illusions were not allowed to materialize: old friends were dumbfounded by the light and the excessively bright color of his paintings. And only Van Gogh appreciated the beauty and poetry of his landscapes. But all this will happen later, but while suffering incredibly from liver disease, Gauguin is hired by a sailor on a sailboat and arrives in France. He still does not have a livelihood, but he is full of the desire to follow his vocation.
In Paris he was once again kindly treated by the generosity and hospitality of a loyal friend of Schuffenecker. Financial support was provided by Theo Van Gogh, acquiring several canvases and ceramics. But the troubles do not leave Gauguin, the consequences of the transferred disease; The cold air of November Paris harms his weak health. Gauguin again travels to Pont-Aven and settles in the guest house Gloanek, which he left just a few months ago. Money is not enough even for that. to buy brushes and canvases, however, the artist’s thoughts are more concerned with finding new solutions in painting.
Tragic friendship
Although Van Gogh retired to the provinces, he, through correspondence with his brother and friends, was aware of the controversy and new experiments conducted in Paris and in Brittany. Vincent wanted to collect artists in Arles and create a “southern workshop”, a school and a boarding house for those who are passionate about art. Van Gogh first thought himself to go to Gauguin in Pont-Aven, but then abandoned this idea and began to cherish the idea of ​​that.
Shuffenecker drew attention to the fact that the walls of the large hall by the time of the opening of the cafe remained unoccupied (the mirrors ordered by Volpini were not manufactured on time). Schuffenecker did not have much difficulty convincing Volpini, who was upset by this, that it was necessary to tighten the walls with red material and hang on them pictures of Schuffenecker himself and his friends. Gauguin took this idea with enthusiasm – a great opportunity to bring to the logical end of the relationship with the Impressionists. Pissarro, Sera and Signacom. Gauguin and Schuffenecker select a small circle of artists, which included Charles Laval, Emil Bernard, Louis Anketin, Daniel de Montfred, Van Gogh and Rua. Theo refused to provide a picture of his brother for this purpose. He considered it unworthy to enter the Palace of Arts from the “back door”. Gauguin hurriedly came from Paris to Paris, he and his friends percussed their work, brought them in a hand cart, hung them on the walls and posted posters around the city so that no one could tear them down. The exposition was opened at the end of May. Very few critics noted the exhibition of paintings “Impressionist and Synthetists’ Groups,” as Gauguin dubbed it.
Some critics, mostly Bernard’s friends, were sympathetic to the exhibition. These include Gustave Kahn, Felix Feneon, Jules Antoine and especially Albert Orie, who published a series of reviews.

Paul Gauguin

Baby dreams «La petite reve» Dream of a child. 1881 Copenhagen Art Gallery

Paul Gauguin, after reading the novel “The Wedding of Loti” by Pierre Loti, became convinced that Tahiti is his dream, his lost paradise, which he is to find. Arriving in Paris (as always, under the hospitable wing of Shuffenecker), Gauguin acquainted with the representatives of culture and art, often in the cafe “Voltaire” on the Odeon Square. His friends are Verlaine, Jean Mooreas. Charles Maurice, who called Gauguin “the head of symbolist artists.” Jean Dolan, Maurice Barre, Alfred Vollett, editor-in-chief of Mercure de France “, and the charming wife of the editor Rashild. Over time, the generous Shuff begins to be burdened by the presence in the house of Gauguin, who disposes of here as at home, accepts friends and acquaintances without even introducing them to the master, and moreover, has great success with his wife. Gauguin needed to urgently seek another place to live. And he found an ad by the studio near the cafe “Voltaire”, furnished only with an iron bed. The only company was the guitar and model Juliette Yue, who worked as a seamstress; with her the artist was introduced by Daniel de Montfred. Very soon, the girl became the mistress of Gauguin and the heroine of the not-so-symbolic painting “The Loss of Innocence” (Awakening of Spring). The nude is depicted on the background of a mountainous landscape; in the girl’s hand a flower, on her shoulder – a fox, a symbol of depravity.